Junior, 6-0 195
- Second Team All Big Ten Selection
- Two year starter
- Excels in Zone Coverage
- Good Ball Skills
- Has desired Size/Speed
- Above average length for the position
- Smooth in and out of breaks
- Shows good route recognition
- Can be blocked by wide receivers
- Doesn’t always get hands on wide receivers
- Plays smaller then his size in run support
- Inconsistent in man coverage
Gareon Conley is another talented defensive prospect coming out of Columbus and one of three defensive backs that played for the Buckeyes and could go in the first round in this year’s draft. Conley is a three-year contributor and two-year starter for Ohio State. He is a big corner who is incredibly smooth in transition and has above average ball skills. Conley’s strength is dropping in zone coverage, locating the ball and driving to make a play. This below clip is a perfect example of his ability to read and react, something that is consistently see when watching Conley.
In the second clip, Conley opens up his hips and shows off his speed running with the wide receiver on a go route. While the ball is under thrown, Conley is in great position, turns his head toward the quarterback and locates the football early on to make a play.
The play against Wisconsin is yet another example of Conley dropping and getting depth, keeping his eyes on the corner and driving on the ball. With his strength being in zone coverage, Conley can play man though he excels in zone. As the season went on, his man coverage skills improved considerably. Below he takes on Mike Williams, directs his route and makes an easy interception. Throughout the season Conley failed to get his hands on receivers allowing clean releases that would generate separation. Here though he gets his hands on a bigger receiver and makes a play on the ball. These skills were further displayed at the combine as he was one of the more impressive corners showing smooth hips and solid footwork.
While Conley has improved his skills in man coverage, he will have to progress even further to turn into a complete corner at the next level. At times he would struggle to locate the ball in the air which resulted in penalties or giving up the occasional big play. The below clip is an example of this. While Conley locates the football, he doesn’t force the receiver to the boundary and locates the football much to late. As a result, the receiver is in better position and makes a better play to the ball. While plays like this aren’t all over his tape, they are relevant and must be addressed at the next level.
While I like Conley in a zone scheme, he will need to become more physical at the next level both with bigger receivers and in run support. While the Big Ten didn’t have the best wideouts in the country, his game did improve, not just each season, but as those seasons went on.
Games Watched: Penn State 2016 and 2015, Nebraska 2016, Wisconsin 2016, Oklahoma 2016, Tulsa 2016, Michigan 2016.
Round Value: Late First
Player Comparison: Sean Smith.
I linked Sean Smith and Conley for a few reasons. One, both are bigger corners and while Conley doesn’t have the height that Smith does, he does have similar length and the ability to play press coverage in the NFL. Like Smith, Conley excels in a cover 3 scheme like the Raiders and could play a similar role in a zone defense. While Conley needs to become more physical in run support, both players possess smooth hips and above average ball skills.